Romance, op. 36
September 24, 2017: Mihai Marica, cello; Michael Brown, piano
Saint-Saëns was celebrated for his remarkable keyboard skills, his fabulous memory, and his sightreading abilities, which like Mozart’s showed themselves at an extremely early age. He chose the life of a composer rather than that of a touring virtuoso, though he did continue to perform his own works at home and abroad. He is known especially for his five piano concertos, his humorous Carnival of the Animals (which he did not allow to be performed publicly or to be published during his lifetime!), and his opera Samson and Delilah, but he also worked to fill in gaps for instruments in need of repertoire. In 1874 he wrote his alluring Romance for horn and orchestra for the famous horn player Henri Garigue. Well aware that it would work equally well with the warm timbre of the cello, he published it the same year with that option. The long flowing lines of this Romance (see definition above for Beethoven’s op. 50) unfold like a waltz, contrasted by a more impassioned middle section before returning to the lilt of the opening.
© Jane Vial Jaffe